I revised my list of The Best Running Movies of All Time with the addition of the film, Gallipoli, now in fourth place. I forgot how good this 1981 movie is, both in terms of the running scenes and in it's portrayal of a consequential battle in World War I. In fact, I'd recommend reading up on the Gallipoli campaign to learn of the disaster encountered by young men like those depicted in this movie. Still, the best parts of the film are the running scenes showing the passion of two runners as they train and race. After all these years I still recall the training run by Mark Lee's character through the Australian Outback . . . without shoes. Think of that next time you struggle home from a long run with a tiny blister on your toe. The movie also provides a chance to see Mel Gibson before he became famous - - or infamous as the case may be.
1. Chariots of Fire (1981) This inspiring story of two British athletes who compete in the 1924 Olympics won the Best Picture Oscar.
2. Fire on the Track: The Steve Prefontaine Story (1995) A documentary of the cult hero and one of America’s best ever distance runners. This film that preceded two glossier feature films of Prefontaine is brought to life by over 50 story tellers who were not actors but friends and fellow competitors.
3. Without Limits (1998) This Tom Cruise-produced story of Steve Prefontaine was written by friend and Olympian Kenny Moore and starred Billy Crudup.
4. Gallipoli (1981) The Peter Weir-directed film about two Aussies (Mel Gibson and Mark Lee) whose running careers are interrupted by Australia's involvement in World War I. Coach: "What are your legs?" Archy: "Springs. Steel springs." Coach: "What are they going to do?" Archy: "Hurl me down the track." Enough said.
5. Endurance (1999) Director Bud Greenspan’s race footage highlights this biography of Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie, perhaps the greatest distance runner ever.
6. The Games (1970) A fictional look at the personalities and training methods of four distance runners as they prepare for and compete in the Olympic Marathon. Ryan O'Neil is the American hopeful with a passion for running and for performance-enhancing drugs.
7. Prefontaine (1997) This Disney version of Prefontaine’s life starring Jared Leto received “two thumbs up” from Siskel and Ebert.
8. Marathon Man (1976) Distance running grad student Dustin Hoffman gets mixed up with some bad people. After seeing this you may not want to visit the dentist ever again.
9. Running Brave (1983) Inspirational story of Native American Billy Mills who came from obscurity to win gold in one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history.
Can you suggest any more?